God Knows The Heart

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So, the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” their teachings are merely human rules.” You have not let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”                                                      Mark 7:5-8

As we read in the book of Mark, Jesus’ opponents which was the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem questioned Jesus about why he and his disciples were not living according to the tradition of the elders. Trying to embarrass him and undermine his authority. When with the crowd he had been teaching, they questioned Jesus about eating with ritually of the elders would never do which is to eat with unclean hands.

The tradition of the elders was an oral interpretation of Israel’s ancestral custom. The Pharisees considered this tradition legally binding all Jews, even through not all followed it. Mark’s gospel of the explanation of the purification ritual demonstrate he is not sympathetic towards the tradition.

Jesus first responded to his opponents by quoting from the Prophets and the Law, sources important than the tradition of the elders. He said his adversaries were people who honored God with the lips but not with their hearts. They taught human laws as divine doctrine which can also be found in Isaiah 29:13 which states “These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”  Finally, Jesus responded directly to their question about the purification regulation. However, he addressed the crowd, not his opponents, thus resuming his position as a teacher with authority. He told the crown that nothing went into a person could defile them. Rather it was the things that comes out of a person’s mouth that defiles them. In other words, things that a person puts into their mouths such as food could not defile them, it is what comes out of a person’s mouth, which truly comes from the heart  Jesus’ new teaching about inner purity calls us to reexamine our tendency to engage in long-held traditions and rituals rather than the transformation of our hearts. It also challenges our tendency to hold on to human traditions as if they were divinely commanded. Finally, it calls us to reexamine the exclusive stance of our faith communities. This last challenge may be the hardest call of all, if our faith is predicated on a versus then understanding. Just as traditions and purity regulations helped preserve ancient Israel’s religious and ethnic identity and faith is a hostile world, so traditions and purity rules help preserve traditional biblical Christian identity. Are we like the crowds following Jesus or are  we like Mark’s first readers, are confronting Jesus. Do we hang on to traditions and rituals remaining exclusive in our thinking in order to protect our traditional faith and identity? Or do we let God open our hearts-even if such action subjects our faith and identify to change?

We need to remember what Jesus tells us as well as his disciple, God is not interested at our human traditions, which is that we come to church on Sunday mornings and sit in the pew, we then feel that we did our Christian duties until next week. We are called Christians because we are followers (disciples) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we should live our lives according to the teaching of Christ. More important is what God told Samuel in the book of 1 Samuel 16:7 God does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Eileen

 

 

 

 

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The Struggle Of Our Today (Guess Blogger)

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“We’ll tell you about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today.” Lysa Terkeurst.
Wow. These words are heavy, exposing the truth. It is easier to talk about the past. How we have overcome trials demonstrating our own persistence and strength. Of course, from time to time we will include God, most times as a hero who swept in and saved the day. Rescuing us from the storm.
But talking about today? Being transparent; honest? That is a different story. It takes guts. We like to appear to the world as having it all together. As if we can accomplish this insane to do list, save the world, and be home for supper. In reality, we are falling apart- most people are facing limitations daily, which could be illness, addiction, family disputes, or finances.

With a chronic illness, we act often. Taking on the role of a healthy and normal individual in order to blend in or make others happy. A friend asks how we are… and too often, we smile straight up telling a lie, “I’m doing great”…. Desperately we even debate which lies to tell our doctor. What is worth sharing? Will he or she believe me? Is it worth the frustration? It is challenging, to be honest, and the individual that God created us to be. Isolation closes in on us; as we swim in the sea of invisible illness

Without a doubt, there is a time and a place for everything. God’s word echo’s this in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” At times taking on a role has its advantages, and at other times, it is downright damaging. There is also a time for raw honesty. “You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up. “You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up,” Rick Warren. Putting yourself out there is scary. Sharing your heart is healthy. By sharing with others, you become an inspiration and encouragement to others. Struggling does not make you weak, it makes you human.

Additionally, we ask who can we be honest with. Lately, I seem to keep hearing the same message, we were not meant to do life on our own. We were made for community, not isolation. But in all honesty, it easier to say than do. Falling into isolation becomes easy with an illness. Most times, it is not intentional. We flare up, battle fatigue, and lose many friends. Having someone we can confide in about the struggles of today is rare. There are people who hurt us, leave us, and betray our trust.

 

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I think it is hard, to be honest in this way because we don’t want to be negative or a burden to others. At the same time, it is important to do so. Not only is it healthy, but it allows others to support us and specifically pray with us then allows us the chance to offer the same to them. Being honest allows us to share with others how God is working in our lives right now.

Personally, I have two friends who I can be brutally gut level honest with, knowing in my heart that no matter what they will still love me and will pray with me. Their friendship is a beautiful treasure. I hope you have at least one person who you can be honest with about the struggles of today.

Lord,

You are the God who sees us and knows us completely. Teach us how to be honest about the struggles of today. Bless us with people who we can share our burdens with and support. Allow us to continually bring glory to Your Holy Name.

Amen

 

A big thank you to Victoria her blog is: Chronically Hopeful 2014  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/25232744/posts/1937603516

 

Your Identity

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Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.                   John 1:12-12 NIV

It’s extremely easy to lose our identity, furthermore, to find ourselves searching all over to find out who we are. We hear stories on the news and we see it in the people we associate with. Additionally, we certainly deal with it in a very private as well as personal way as we hear voices, voices which tell us and then are projected into the world. We tell the world what we think about ourselves and don’t think for a minute we’re fooling the entire world. We may fool some people, but overall, we aren’t fooling everyone.
We hear the voices in our heart, spirit and mind telling us good and bad. We hear the good from those who really love and care for us, we hear that good from God — yet we tend to believe the bad which comes from Satan and from those who don’t care for us. We hold onto that bad stuff.
We hear things like . . . you’re
Not good enough, Not smart enough, Not attractive enough
Not skinny enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, Not from the right family, We’re told we’re not enough! And countless other lies. Hearing those lies long enough and your identity will be formed by it. You feel rejected. Eventually you believe you’re not enough. The voices which shape our identity begin early in life, from the moment we are born. Those words and thoughts stick! Don’t they? They play like a broken record. I know I’ve heard them. I was reminded I wasn’t good enough too many times.
As much as we think we can overcome them, they come back and haunt us. You remind yourself, they were right, I’m no good, not good enough.
Then we begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. We realize in our heart, spirit and mind we need Jesus to help us through life. Yet we sin. We know this fact and the world knows it, and we think we’re worthless; unlovable. I’ve committed too many terrible sins. My sins exempt me from God ever loving me. So, I question if Jesus would die for me. Maybe He’d die for a Saint but certainly not a sinner. I’m not good enough.
That’s where we get it wrong friends. You see, there’s nothing we’ve done which is so bad that God cannot forgive us and bring us into His family. Humanly speaking, some may never forgive you, divinely speaking, we have a God who is not human! Thank God for that!! And He can and will forgive you . . . if you ask.
So, whatever you’ve done in your life up until this very second, know that God wants to be in a relationship with you. He loves you, He died for you. In 2 Peter 3:9, as Peter wrote about the return of Christ, he said, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
That’s God’s desire for us. God doesn’t want you to think you cannot be loved and embraced by Him. Peter tells us repent, turn away from your sin. Turn to God and God will embrace you in a life changing relationship, he will change you and I from the inside, out. He wants you in His family. There is not a wall which is meant to keep you away, the door is always open, the lights are always on. But, we must receive Christ.
To receive this blessing from God, we must except Jesus for who is truly is, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the “Great I Am” What Paul wrote to the church in the book of Ephesians was readily understood but is often missed by us. Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians 1:5-6 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us the one he loves. Paul wanted the Ephesians to remember their identity. He wrote, in love he predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.
It was God’s great joy to adopt us into His family. God didn’t have to, He wanted to. What is your primary identity? God adopted you — do you understand that? If you believe in Jesus, you understand you don’t earn God’s love. God loves you because of who you are and who you will yet become in His kingdom. In Ephesians 2:4-5 Paul tells us, but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. Also in the same chapter 8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works so that no one can boast. John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Movement summons up grace in three parts-Prevenient Grace, the grace that surrounds us: is the grace that comes to us before we know God. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Justifying Grace- The Grace that makes our brokenness whole. Justifying Grace brings a big change to the relationship we have with God. We come to acknowledge our sinfulness and trust that we are forgiven by God’s grace. Justifying Grace is when God reaches out to a person through Jesus Christ with accepting and pardoning love.
Sanctifying Grace- Smoothing out the rough edges. Prevenient Grace is God meeting you at every corner, Justifying Grace is God reaching out to you with love, you turn a corner in your faith journey. Sanctifying Grace challenger’s believers to go deeper in faith, to love the world energetically, and to keep growing in the knowledge and love of God.
So, Paul was telling the people this — — If you have come to know Jesus, your most defining moment isn’t who threw you out BUT who took you in. God picked you out, picked you up, and took you home. God did that for you!! He was willing to die for you, so you would never again have to face rejection from the world. He wanted you to be part of His family, even when nobody else did!
There were so many issue facing the churches then as well as so many different problems we face today. Paul tells them as well as us of today, we need to change our ways, he reminds them they belong! Their most defining moment is not who threw you out, but who brought you in. If you heard the call of God and responded to Christ, you need to know He picked you out, picked you up, and brought you home. He adopted you. You’re family! Let that sink in. Remind yourself, God adopted me. Hold onto those words, believe them! The term redemption was also a trade word. In Ephesians 1:7, Paul wrote ~ 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
Jesus paid the price for you and me by his suffering on the cross. That was the purchase price. Christianity is not about doing enough for God so he finally loves you. No, God buys us — redeems us — through the blood of Jesus hanging on the cross: “In him we have redemption through his blood—the forgiveness of sins.” God doesn’t need to punish you for your sins, somebody else was already punished for them.
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul wrote, In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were SEALED with the promised of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is reminding them, when they believed in Jesus – – – they were marked with a seal of the Holy Spirit.
We need to know and believe our identity in Christ. Whatever happens that is not good in your life. You name it! Maybe you’re in it right now. Know that you are His! You are the King’s child! The Lord of life, the God of all Creation, the Lord of the Heavenly Armies . . .
He loves you . . . He adopted you, He redeemed you, He sealed you. You are His! That my friends are your primary identity . . . You are a child of the Highest God, Jesus, the Christ!
And that is freeing. I don’t have to earn my way in, I don’t have to buy my way in, when life is a struggle I don’t have to buy junk to satisfy me, because I am the Lord’s.
When I remember that I’m loved, I serve differently. When I remember that I’m loved, I love differently. When I remember who I am, I give and live differently.
When I find myself in one of those moments when I’m buying something I don’t need and I think, What am I doing here? Why do I do what I do? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find myself leaving a conversation and think — Was it necessary to rip into that person and bring them down? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find my blood pressure rising over something really, really stupid and think, You don’t understand me! Why don’t you agree with me? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am. When I remember who I am, when I settle this identity thing, and when I remember it, I’m free to give grace, because I’ve received grace. I’m free to give love, because I’ve received love. I’m free to serve, because God has served me and lavished His mercy on me. When I remember who I am, I live differently. Just as the people of Ephesus needed to remember their identity, we too need to remember who we are. Knowing our primary identity as children of God, bought by the blood of Christ.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Prepared for Your Eternal Destination

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When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the sings I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Don’t be concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”                               John 6:25-27

There are depths to God’s nature that ho human could ever estimate, but few people have taken the time and gone to the trouble of getting to know God to the best of their ability. They believe Him and yet refuse to totally and unconditionally entrust their lives to Him. They say they trust God and yet worry themselves sick about many things. (This sounds like many of us) They are surrounded by the glory of the living God, and yet they become involved in petty religious issues that dishonor His name.

One of the most glorious facts about Christ’s teachings is their simplicity. Jesus invites the human being to a new and blessed relationship with the living God and Father. One of the basic requirements for their relationship is sincere spiritual hunger and willingness to accept Jesus as Redeemer and Savior.

This acceptance is not the result of an emotional experience or following a specific religious formula, but total and unconditional surrender to the Father. You should get into the habit of speaking to God as you go about your daily tasks, like you would speak to a friend, which is exactly what God is. As you start having more intimate fellowship with Him, He will become more of a reality to you, until every aspect of your life is made holy by God’s presence and you are ready for your eternal destination.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends                                                                                                    Eileen

Trust Him!

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When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?                Psalm 56:3-4

Trust Jesus and don’t be afraid, for he is your strength and song. Imagine what it means to have him as your strength. God spoke the universe into existence; God’s power is absolutely unlimited! Human weakness, consecrated to him, is like a magnet, drawing ever so near to him. Remember fear can block the flow of God’s strength into you. Instead of trying to fight your fears, concentrate on trusting him. When you relate to Jesus in confident trust, there is no limit to how much he can strengthen you. Remember that Jesus is your song. He wants you to share his joy, living in conscious awareness of his presence. Rejoice as your journey together towards heaven, join him in singing his song. 

Rejoice and be thankful! As you walk with Jesus through your day, practice trusting and thanking him all along the way. Trust in the channel through which his peace flows into you. Thankfulness lifts you up above your circumstances. Jesus does his greatest works through people with grateful, trusting hearts. Rather than planning and evaluating, practice trusting and thanking him continually.  As you continue to study the scriptures look to the letter to Philippi which is call the book of Philippians 4:4-6 ( New Testament) in which the Apostle Paul tells us the following: Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do  not be anxious about anything, but in  every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

“Here Is Your Son”

 

 

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  Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved, standing nearby he said to her, “Woman here is your son, “ and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home.      John 19:25-27

Our Scripture today  illustrates love born of the sincere heart of a child. Jesus was truly God but also truly human, yet without sin. He knew how much Mary had to suffer. Only love allows one to understand the suffering of another. The love of Christ always burnt brightly, for the entire sinful world, but also is tenderness for His only family and especially for his mother. Christ’s last command concerned his mother. He forgot himself, his own needs, his own sorrow. Human love was an important priority in Jesus’ life. In his dying hour and in his sorrow, he took care of his mother. If anyone dare say that they are taking care of their parents, let them look up at the cross on Golgotha and remember Jesus’ example. Jesus was never more thankful, tender and sensitive than at that moment. He loved his own until the very end. Jesus had already saved the man on the cross next to him, he had already prayed for his enemies, but he did not forget his mother! Human bonds bring responsibilities, responsibilities that remain even after our death. Christ’s suffering and death make us very aware of this. And so on the cross on Golgotha connects the two richest words on earth: mother and Jesus!

 

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friens

Joy-Filled Grace

Psalm 16.pngYou will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasure of living with You forever.                                  Psalm 16:11

Our lives here on earth change constantly; new engaged in new experience and circumstances every day. We learn and grow  and move on. Sometimes there is a lot of sweat and hard labor, but little beauty and rest. Although we enjoy a measure of  success we also often taste failure, disappointment and pain. We mostly find human joy in relationships with friends. But even those are simply a mixture of highs and lows; they come and go, When we are happy and all smiles, when love is strong and warm, we wish that things could go on like that forever. But all earthly joy fades.

there is, however, one joy that is steady and eternal, and that is the presence of God. Many people shy away from God because they fear that He will make their joy disappear. They have the feeling that He will not approve of their lifestyles or that he will be shocked by their faults and the horrors of their sins. He does not, however, do that. But in striving after those temporary earthly pleasures they walk past the ingle greatest joy their is in life to know God and to live close to Him.

If you believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him faithfully, you will know that He does not in any way destroy earthly pleasures; He makes them richer and deeper. He adds a joy that does not fade with the passing years, a personal, tender and life-enriching friendship with Him! What is more, this joy is only the beginning of an even greater joy when this life comes to an end.

 

We man think God wants actions of a certain kind, but God wants people of a certain kind.                           C.S. Lewis

Grace and Peace to You My Friends